The LSDC's aim with this work stream is to identify opportunities, unpick barriers and develop specific, tangible actions and recommendations to unleash the potential of London's green entrepreneurs and clean tech sector. The aim of the Clean Tech and Innovation (CT&I) sub group is to:
- Help achieve a Green Economy for London by 2050 in line with the London Infrastructure Investment plan.
- Helping make London a global hub for clean tech and low carbon enterprises and raising the profile of green tech and green business in London.
- Establish London’s reputation as a centre for low carbon technology in the next three years including the establishment of London’s first clean tech cluster and EXPO by 2018 at Imperial West and the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC).
Route Map to a Cleantech Cluster in London
At the COP21 Paris Climate talks, the world agreed to attempt to stop global average temperatures rising by more than 1.5ºC. The scale of this challenge is huge, but so is the opportunity. Fast innovation, rapidly deployed, will help us reduce our emissions and adapt to the impact of climate change.
Cities will play a crucial role in this. As the great concentrators of humanity, they are on the one hand the main driver of climate change and most at risk because of it; and on the other, the best equipped to solve the challenges it brings and create new economic growth as a result.
The London Sustainable Development Commission recommends to the Mayor that we work together to create a ‘Cleantech Cluster’ at Old Oak and Park Royal (OOPR). This Cluster will aid London to best take advantage of the opportunity to help solve some of the world’s greatest climate challenges while also creating a wealth of benefits for London.
The Commission has now produced a report entitled Better Future: A Route Map to Creating a Cleantech Cluster in London
This report summarises the case for supporting this cluster of future oriented and problem solving environmental enterprises, and examines the location we’ve identified as the best opportunity for making fast progress. This report also includes our recommendations for next steps.
London has finance, business innovation, excellence in science and technology, a world-class design and creative industry, high-tech brilliance, respected professional services, and the ambition that comes from a growing megacity that attracts talent from all over the world. London has what it takes to become a global leader in our transition to a more resilient, sustainable, vibrant global economy.
Although the capital has the UK’s greatest concentration of green businesses, with a growth rate of 6% p/a, it is growing at just over half the global rate. One reason for this is that the sector is spatially dispersed and therefore gaining none of the well-known benefits to growth of clustering. Our key proposition is for London to generate that cluster, creating a strong, creative focus for London’s drive to a low-carbon future.
Where in London?
We would build this cluster around a unique set of opportunities that now exist in West London. The development of a major innovation campus by Imperial College at White City and the simultaneous redevelopment of Old Oak and Park Royal into a smart and sustainable district. Bringing together Europe’s top technical university and Europe’s largest urban redevelopment has the clear potential to provide a home of global significance for the cleantech sector in London.
Once Crossrail and HS2 are complete in 2026, along with the links to Heathrow and the motorway system, this cluster will be positioned in the midst of the best communications and transportation infrastructure in the UK. This will provide an internationally connected showcase and focus for not just London’s cleantech sector, but that of the UK.
How clusters work
Imagine the scene. A eureka moment in a lab in Imperial College is moved to an Imperial White City Incubator. It is rapidly tested and developed to the point where it earns first round finance. It moves from the incubator to a business growth hub in Old Oak, where it draws upon a range of services and is inspired by other related entrepreneurial businesses.
Prototypes can be made in the same zone to prove market demand exists. This is the potential of a cluster. If our vision is realised, we can create a cleantech accelerator to take the best inventions and turn them into investible enterprises. And we can establish incubators that support these enterprises in early life and then take them through the highest risk growth phase to the point where they can access substantial and growing markets. This will also lead to improved employment prospects for a range of skills and age groups.
Our Cleantech Cluster plan
We propose that the Mayor should appoint a Cleantech Cluster Lead to drive and coordinate the four key steps that will launch London’s Cleantech Cluster:
1. Launch a Global Cleantech exhibition or festival in 2018
2. Create a cleantech accelerator
3. Establish a cleantech incubator
4. Form an early stage manufacturing centre
For the long term success and prosperity of the Cleantech Cluster we recommend the following actions:
• To both attract finance into the Cleantech Cluster and support the activities of its innovation community
• To engage the cleantech innovation community in the development of Old Oak and Park Royal as a world-leading smart and sustainable district
• To work with national government in developing this Cleantech Cluster as a key hub for cleantech in the UK
Of course, there are many other things we can and should do to encourage the growth of the cleantech sector in London but the key objective for London should be to establish a cluster. This is a project that requires the convening power and political encouragement of the Mayor to be brought to fruition.
We are confident that our selected site, which has a great history of engineering excellence and outstanding geographical positioning today, can become a home for a globally significant innovation cluster capable of attracting the very best enterprises to lead the next technological and industrial transformation of our economy in London and beyond.
Read the report in full here: Better Future: A Route Map to Creating a Cleantech Cluster in London